Glenn Irwin’s domination of superbike racing at the fonaCAB and Nicholl Oils North West 200 continued unabated last weekend when the 33 year old steered his PBM/Beer Monster Ducati V4 to victory in both of the premier class races.
That double victory in the Anchor Bar and Merrow Hotel event means Irwin is the winner of the last eight superbike NW200 races, a tally that is just one shy of the record of nine Superbike victories at the meeting shared by the late Joey Dunlop and Michael Rutter.
An off by French rider Gerald Dath in the first race and separate crashes by James Hillier and Mike Browne in the second brought out the red flags after only three of the scheduled laps had been completed in each race.
Irwin was battling Davey Todd and Dean Harrison in the first encounter with only 1.5 secs covering the trio before Alastair Seeley was forced out of the race on the second lap with an overheating engine on his Milwaukee BMW- but not before a close encounter with Irwin at the Magic Roundabout.
“Glenn has come up the inside and has caught the wing.” Seeley explained.
“It was a bit of a risky move going into a high speed corner.”
Michael Dunlop set the fastest lap of the race at 122.712mph as he moved into the lead at Metropole on lap two on his new Hawk Racing Honda. A lap later he had retired.
Irwin, who later apologised to his Carrickfergus neighbour for the wing encounter, was holding off Todd and Harrison when the race was stopped. Victory came as a relief for the current BSB championship leader after Tuesday and Thursday’s troubled qualifying sessions with his Ducati.
“When I came here this week I knew what I wanted and I knew what we had.” Irwin, who limits his racing to the Superbike races at the North West, explained.
“It wasn’t what I wanted but to be fair to the boys they’ve went outside the budget to get me what I needed.”
“On Thursday I felt like I was riding like a maniac and I could never win the race. Today I felt like I was riding at 70%, pushing hard on some corners but I felt in control.”
With his confidence boosted by that win, Irwin was locked in battle with Seeley, Dunlop and Dean Harrison on the third lap of the feature race when James Hillier’s crash brought out the red flags. The race was restarted and the Ducati rider moved into the lead at Mather’s chicane, crossing the line 1.06 seconds ahead of Seeley when the red flags came out for a second time after Mike Browne’s crash.
The local hero was finally declared the winner and he joined his jubilant fans in the packed grandstands for some crowd surfing.
“It’s an amazing feeling.” a relieved Irwin smiled after having spent the previous few weeks telling anyone who would listen that he would win big at his home race this year.
“It’s been a tough week.” he admitted.
“I’ve come in the best form ever and the guys gave me a great bike today.”